Composting Grass / What’s Compost
Beautiful lawns are a trademark of ornamental private and public gardens and landscapes in every corner of the world. But it is rightly said that beauty comes at a price. These gardens require careful maintenance and usually generate huge amount of cuttings.
So disposing of these trimmings can turn out to be a difficult job. Putting garden waste in the dustbin is environmentally damaging as much of the material will simply end up in landfill. Composting is an efficient way to manage garden waste and recycle natural materials.
Composting, often described as nature’s way of recycling, is the biological process of breaking up of organic waste such as kitchen waste, dog poop, leaves, food waste, newspaper, worms, and coffee grounds, etc., into an extremely useful humus-like substance by various micro-organisms including bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes in the presence of oxygen.
Actinomycetes are similar to fungus in the way they grow and spread, but its distinguishing elements are that the types of materials they are efficient at decomposing. The active nature in this microscopic bacteria and the sheer number present (about 10 million per 1 gram of soil), make them highly effective at breaking down materials like tree bark and other hard organic material.
Composting Grass / Tips
Freshly trimmed grass has more moisture and a much higher nitrogen level than most other garden materials. Freshly mowed grass can often clump together and this is a problem because there is no room for oxygen to get in.
If you compost your grass clippings like this, you may find that you have a serious odor problem to deal with. Here are few composting tips:
- Always mix grass cuttings with tougher more fibrous materials like scrunched up cardboard and shredded paper. This balances out the nitrogen levels and provides air pockets that also help. Young hedge clippings and leaves are also good.
- Check the moisture content inside the bin periodically. Compost should be moist like a wrung out sponge. If we add a lot of grass cuttings there is a chance that it could become too wet. If this happens dry it out by adding more dry brown material.
- Give the compost a turn from time to time. It is important to add air to the bin to aid composting. This can be done using a garden fork. Mix materials that tend to slump and exclude air, like grass cuttings, with more open items such as twigs and scrunched up packaging to add air pockets.
Composting Grass / Uses
There are several uses of grass cuttings. Mixing them with autumn leaves in a separate container with plenty of holes makes a rich leaf mold that can be used as a weed suppressing and moisture retaining mulch or a soil improver. Grass cuttings make good short-term, moisture-retaining mulch for fruit, vegetables and other plants.
Grass should be mowed tall and clippings should be returned to the lawn to produce a healthy lawn. When you set your mower at a higher cutting height, the grass plant produces a deep and efficient root system that can reduce the need for watering. Grass clippings returned to the lawn provide up to 25 percent of your lawn’s total fertilizer needs.
Clippings contain about 4 percent nitrogen, 2 percent potassium and 1 percent phosphorus. While decomposing, they also serve indirectly as a food source for the bacteria in the soil, which are doing many beneficial things (such as decomposing thatch) for a healthy turf environment.
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